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Burgess Park 450 trees being felled now!

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Saturday 5 March 2011 11.12am
I have no idea why the Council is cutting down 450 trees in Burgess Park but they are right now. I received this email from Friends of Burgess Park:

Burgess Park - Chain Saw Massacre of 450 Trees!

Public Meeting of Friends of Burgess Park

Tuesday March 8th, 7.30pm Sports Centre, Burgess Park, Coburg Road

Do you support the current felling of 450 trees in Burgess Park?

This bi-monthly open meeting will be the first meeting since Southwark Council admitted
that it was bulldozing 450 trees, instead of the 147 trees quoted in the planning application.

This meeting is open to all park users.

Come and tell the Friends and the council officers who usually attend these meetings what you think
of what is happening in the park.

Pictures of the chain sawing of trees in the park taken this week, are to be seen on
Burgess Park Action Group Facebook Page or the People's Republic of Southwark Website."
Saturday 5 March 2011 12.54pm
Have they given any reason?

What was in the planning application?

Thanks for posting about the meeting. I'll pass on the info. and try to get there.

Have emailed Gil Davies and Barrie Hargrove at the council.
Saturday 5 March 2011 5.00pm
That email is not from the Friends of Burgess Park.

The Friends of Burgess Park support the plans for Burgess Park. Their full statement can be seen here:

To quote the relevant section:

"In relation to the loss of several small areas of existing woodland, we believe that this issue should be considered against the long-term aspiration that the park will include a wider range of higher-quality wildlife habitats. The Friends prefer to judge the plans against a broader measure of improvement that takes into consideration the quality, health and range of trees rather than just their number."

Southwark Council's urban forester has informed us that:

"A total of 456 trees are to be removed, 167 of which are open grown 'specimen trees' with the remaining number being smaller, immature and lower amenity value stems found within scrub areas. Through the project 4,300mē will be removed, 6,600mē will be planted resulting in a net gain of 2,300mē. No areas of established mature woodland which is characterised by well established trees above 150cm diameter dbh are to be removed.

"A total of 331 specimen trees are to be planted. There is a net increase in canopy cover due to the additional areas of woodland scrub areas which are planned. A number of high quality trees which are worthy of retention are also to be transplanted."

It is worth pointing out that London Wildlife Trust are also in favour of the plans for the park believing that they will benefit wildlife and improve diversity.

Having said all that, the Friends always welcome people to come to their open meetings and find out more about what is going on in the park.
Saturday 5 March 2011 6.31pm

That's not 456 trees although it is no Friends of Burgess Park who is responsible for the alteration there is the question of how did this increase in felling happen.

The Friends meeting is about the future maintenance of Burgess Park, this should have been completed at the master plan stage. The health and quality of the trees should be part of the maintenance plan and not a single massacre. So much for the council's Community Involvement
Saturday 5 March 2011 7.04pm
Consultation did take place on the issue of the loss of trees and scrub land. The Friends have spent many, many hours over the past year or more examining the plans for the park, discussing the plans with the council and the design team and lobbying for changes where necessary. The decision to support the plans was not taken lightly, but after very careful consideration of a range of issues including but not limited to wildlife and biodiversity.

There are 456 trees being removed, of which there are 167 trees 'specimen trees', with the rest being smaller trees growing in scrub land. 'Scrub' is a technical term used to describe areas of immature trees as opposed to 'woodland' which describes areas of mature trees. Where the figure of 167 trees is quoted as the number of trees being removed, it is because the smaller trees in the scrub areas are not being counted separately, but the plans have always been clear that these area of scrub would be removed.

The scrub that is being removed from Burgess Park is of poor quality: it has been badly maintained, there is little variety of trees and the trees are often quite stunted. There were not particularly good for wildlife.

Of the specimen trees being removed, many are also not particularly healthy or are coming towards the end of their lifespans - for instance the cherry trees. Most of Burgess Park only has a thin layer of topsoil and underneath there is vast quantities of rubble left from the demolition of the old houses. This has made it very difficult for existing trees to do well in the park. The new trees will be planted in proper tree pits that will give them space to establish good root systems and which should allow them to flourish.

The plan includes an increase in the area of scrubland and this scrubland should be of a higher quality with more variety of trees and - hopefully - better management in future. This is something the Friends of Burgess Park are working hard to achieve. Indeed the Friends have continually stressed the importance of maintenance in the park and will continue to do so.

To quote from the Friends' statement again:

"the Friends would like to emphasise our concern that the plans for the park will only be a success if they are matched by proper plans for ongoing maintenance and environmental management of the park so that improvements in the park can be sustained for the long term. The Friends will continue to work with Southwark Council to achieve this sustainable future for Burgess Park."

The Friends are a group of people who care deeply about Burgess Park. We wouldn't have supported the plans if we didn't think it was for the best.
Sunday 6 March 2011 12.22pm
Thanks, James Johnston, very helpful postings. When I emailed Gil Davies and Barry Hargrove I asked for information rather than expressing outrage - hardly fair to do the latter without the former! It'll be interesting to see if/ how they respond. I hope they'll endorse the Friends' aspirations for continued consultation and planned management.
Sunday 6 March 2011 12.47pm
We continue to be involved, and as we have said from the start of the project, the redevelopment won't succeed without proper investment in maintenance.

The maintenance and management proposal is something that is being worked on at present. The discussion around maintenance has been happening since the very beginning.

We produced a response to the proposals - I'll post a link but it doesn't seem to work right now. If you'd like a copy, please send me a private message and I will forward to you.

A recent stakeholder meeting which I attend was devoted solely to this.

The Friends are a group who don't just campaign when there are big changes happening. We work steadily throughout the year, liaising with the council, monitoring the park, ensuring that work is carried out correctly, at the right time of year and in a way that will enhance the park for everyone. It doesn't make the papers, but a lot of work goes on quietly without any fanfare.

Once the furore has died down we will still be there, looking for funding to help improve the park even more, trying to get local people involved in everything we can do in the park. We welcome people who have this same concern for the park.
Sunday 6 March 2011 4.18pm
Apologies to Friends of Burgess Park for crediting them with the email that I posted. The original sender was lost in a mass of email headers as the result of it being forwarded numerous times. My mistake!

An alternate take on the tree cutting can be found here:
Burgess Park Action Group

I have no connection to either group but am very curious now about the obvious different approaches to the Park taken by each group in relation to the tree cutting.
Sunday 6 March 2011 7.03pm
The Burgess Park Action Group are a 'ginger' group who pop up when they feel the park is threatened.
It isn't a group that is constituted, where there is any open discussion and it's not promoted that widely so not very accessible to many people.

They had the same level of involvement as the Friends in all the consultation that have taken place over the last year, and their views were welcomed into the general discussion.

Many local people and community groups involved overwhelmingly decided that the tree losses were in the long term making way for a strong design that would rationalise the park, making it as as accessible and as friendly to many people.

No decisions about trees and scrub were taken without considerable thought to the pros and cons of what we were offered in return.
Monday 7 March 2011 9.45am
If the trees are not carrying any pests which could affect planting of any future trees/plants etc., could they not be left in piles at the side of the park to encourage insects which in turn may help increase the population of London birds?
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